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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

NY Sun Editorial on Judge Ordering Himself a Raise

The Wrong Defendants
Editorial of The New York Sun - June 12, 2008

For those of us who savor constitutional debate it was hard to imagine on Monday that the dispute over judges' pay in New York could get any more delicious than the point to which it has been brought by in the suit by Chief Judge Kaye and her lawyer, Bernard Nussbaum. But yesterday Judge Lehner, acting in a separate suit brought by four state judges seeking huge pay increases, actually took the first step toward ruling that the legislature and governor will have to pay our state judges more money — and lots of it, perhaps as much as $600,000 each in back pay to compensate them for the erosion of their pay because of inflation. This could easily add up to hundreds of millions of dollars before the judges finish with the taxpayers' wallets.

To get to this order the judge had to find a way to get past the separation of powers argument, in that it's the governor who writes the budget under New York law and the legislature that approves it. It seems, however, that the judge has concluded that the Assembly won't pass a raise for the judges until a raise is put through for the Assembly members. That linkage might seem a normal part of politics to most New Yorkers, but Judge Lehner concluded that is a constitutionally impermissible entanglement of the interests of the two branches.

One of the questions New Yorkers will want to ask was where in Sam Hill was Andrew Cuomo? He is the attorney general who was supposed to be representing the governor and the legislature. Yet he doesn't seem to have made much, if anything, in the way of response to this line of reasoning, even though it strikes us as likely, even certain, that a lack of compensation for themselves wasn't the only reason the Assembly hasn't acted on judges pay. The fact of the matter is, the kinds of payout the judges are looking for will strike many taxpayers as outrageous and there would be plenty of backlash for any legislator who supports it.

But there is one important point that is moving to the fore in this — the notion that inflation has, in effect, reduced the pay of judges as the years have gone by. Reducing a judge's pay is not allowed under the Constitution and has been a concern of constitutionalists going back to the founders of America. One can see why. But it strikes us that if it is a reduction of pay due to inflation that the judges are worried about, the defendant should not be the governor or the state legislature but the United States Federal Reserve. That is to say, Ben Bernanke is the right defendant in this case — and any former governor would say that the Fed chairman would probably be easier for the judges to push around than Sheldon Silver.


Anonymous said...

I hope they plan to use vaseline so the rape upon the tax payers is less painfull

Anonymous said...

Information has it, that Cuomo has some close ties to OCA'S counsel's office..the kings and queens of the judicial system's protectors of all the judges and masterminds, if you can call them that, of most of the judicial corruption! They are the go to people for circumventing the law, to suit OCA'S need to destroy!
Why would Andy want to disrupt his friends' cushy and always getting it off...positions! Nothing better than taking your anger and misery out on innocent people that don't know you exist!

Anonymous said...

What is really interesting, is that this judge is a "Certificated" judge. By law, he had to retire at age 70 and then apply to stay on. He "retired" in 2003 and can only remain through 2009. This means that he is in his job because Kaye has put him there.
Could this be a case of conflict of interest?

Anonymous said...

The only conflict of interest that OCA recognizes as an issue is...THE TRUTH!

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